Rather than vegans and dairy farmers having fisticuffs, Re’farmd is a wonderful project that gives seeds and start-up training for struggling dairy farmers to transition over to in-demand oat milk, then turn existing farms into animal sanctuaries for barnyard friends to live out their lives in peace. Many farmers are struggling financially, and yet choosing almond milk from California or soymilk from rainforests have their own issues. This way you support local sustainable food, and help farmers and animals at the same time. The Transfarmation Project is helping farmers get out of debt, by swapping raising chickens for growing industries like hemp (a market worth billions). Find more information and help at Farm Transformers and Farmers for Stock-Free Farming.
If you farm alongside animal friends (like sheep dogs), see toxic plants, herbs, trees and flowers to avoid (this post also details other hazards to avoid like mulch and slug pellets). Also see wildlife-friendly fencing alternatives and safer alternatives to netting for wildlife.
The Benefits of Transfarmation
Marcia says ‘thank you’ for transfarming!
Farmers (understandably) get defensive around vegans. Why do cows spend winter indoors, why are there 3 million lame sheep in our fields, and what happens to male calves and chicks in the dairy and egg industries? But like it or not, millions of people are going plant-based, and not going back. So we are left with family farmers (often whose ancestors have ploughed the fields and raised animals for generations) left with meat they can’t sell and fields/farmhouses they can’t afford. At the same time as a country buys Tetra-packed plant milks, imported from abroad. The answer is pretty obvious:
Transfarmation uses the skills and land of farmers, to grow organic plant foods for humans, delivered in sustainable packaging (like glass bottles) and then existing animals live out their lives in peace (and won’t overrun us, as they won’t be bred in the same numbers). You can also find more financial help for small farmers (including free feed, if in need).
Farming animals and slaughterhouse slurry also generates gases contributing to climate change. Transfarmation is the farming answer to ‘when in Rome’. Instead of trying to stop people going vegan, provide their food and make more money yourself, and save your animals too. Plant foods are also better for our health. Most farmers will tell you that it is their life and passion. So this ticks all the boxes, and offers a practical solution for all.
Grow Oats, Save Pigs!
Many farmers have suffered terribly due to cattle TB (read how to stop TB in badgers and cattle). And for remaining animals, farmers are often exploited by supermarkets and get next-to-nothing for the food they sell. Oat milk is very creamy and makes good cappuccino and hot chocolate and profits are rocketing (almost £150 million spent on oat milk in Britain alone, making it the best-selling plant milk by far these days). Yet most brands are owned by big multi-national companies, with issues like migratory bee-keeping, which lets bee starve after the harvest). They are also imported in plastic packaging.
Farmers Who’ve Transfarmed!
- 73 Cows is a film about a former beef/dairy farmer who inherited the family business, but did not want to send animals to slaughter. So with help from Vegan Organic Network, the entire herd went off to live in a sanctuary. He now grows and sells vegetables, and has plans for a cooking school!
- A couple of long-term chicken/cow farmers in Arkansas now grow mushrooms. The retired cows are now part of the family, and graze happily in a sanctuary setting.
- A couple of chicken farmers (US) were mired in debt and struggling. So they turned their chicken houses into greenhouses and reused the cool cells, chicken feeders and watering system. And repurposed the computer system to control lights and fans. Today they grow microgreens, specialty vegetables and herbs.
- A couple of pig farmers (who were losing $5 per pig sold) converted the barns to storage, and now sell 7 types of mushrooms to local markets and wholesalers.
- A third-generation cattle farmer now runs a successful organic vegetable farm; selling leafy greens, beans, peas and roots to local people. Farmers donated hay to his sanctuary animals.
- Award-winning goat cheese makers turned their skills to make vegan cheese. The farm now houses rescued animals (including a blind little goat, and a 36-year-old horse who is blind in one eye).
- Broken Shovels Farm is a former abandoned property near Denver (USA). It houses 250 animals including goats and rescued animals. 12 volunteers work 4 hours weekly, to help out.
- A beef farmer’s wife went vegan said she would buy any cattle her husband sold! After a few ‘interesting conversations’ no doubt, he gave up arguing. They now teach others how to transfarm!
- One former ‘humane’ pig farmer in Sweden (who also ran a meat shop) now lectures on veganic agriculture!
- A Scottish farm swapped farming cattle and sheep to soft fruits (mostly raspberries and strawberries) and swede.
- Gina has created Scotland’s first plant-protein croft in the highlands. Volunteers and crowdfunding helped her plant an orchard of 300 hazelnut trees, with plans for 150 sweet chestnut trees and 100 blackcurrant bushes. She is also doing trials for alley cropping’ (growing vegetables between trees) and glamping (glamorous camping!) for extra income.
- Jennifer and Rodney from Arkansas (US) raised cattle and chickens. But had a change of heart after becoming ‘heavy with grief’ sending their animals to die. So they cancelled the contracts and got help from a transformation project to buy hay for their cows. They now run a mushroom farm!
- Michelle and Robert were not even farmers (he has an ‘extreme dislike of mud!’) But they rented an acre of Scottish land, and now supply local hotels with microgreens, edible flowers, fruit and vegetables. They also have a box scheme which started during the pandemic, when hotels were closed. They keep soil healthy with alafalfa, rock dust and seaweed, and use polycrubs (mini polytunnels) to protect crops in gale force winds.
- Joost van Strien runs an organic vegetable 800-acre farm in Romania, using rotations to grow wheat, oats, barley, spelt and rye. 7% of land is left alone to help wildlife and attract natural predators. He also grows potatoes, pumpkins, onions, beets, carrots and parsnips.
Dorset Dairy to Locally-Milled Flours
Laurence was devastated when (after suffering personal tragedy), his family lost almost all their herd to bovine TB. Seeing life taken away in his own family, led him to not be able to send his beef cattle to market. He says ‘Farmers run businesses, but at the end of the day, we are human beings’. He transitioned to growing organic cereals with help from Farmers For Stock-Free Farming and plans to mill his own organic flour, with help from the Farming Investment Fund. His farm is now Biocyclic Vegan Standard.
Laurence says that if want better food, we should be prepared to pay for it (we spend less money on food in the UK than anywhere bar the US and Singapore). Oxfordshire’s Tollhurst Farm pays 5 full-time employees a living wage through its veg box and farm shop, farming on just 19 acres of land. This model could be upscaled nationally to create jobs, help animals, stop climate change and increase biodiversity and public health. Yet the UK imports 50% of food and over 90% of fruits and vegetables. A study by Harvard Law School found that if we used all current cropland to grow food for human consumption, we could provide calorie, protein and nutrient needs of everyone.
We’ve got an agricultural system that is sustainable and works; let’s run with this! It’s not a hippy system. The more I look into it, the more I learn it solves all problems. Laurence Candy